A Bangladeshi film director and an actor have been arrested and charged after a scene in their film depicting police harshly interrogating a rape victim angered members of the country’s police force.
Anonno Mamun was arrested on Friday alongside Shaheen Mridha, the actor who played the police officer who questions a rape victim in the film titled Nabab LLB.
The first half of the film, a fictional courtroom drama about rape and the treatment of victims was released on a local streaming service in mid-December.
The controversial scene which angered the police went viral on social media last week, with criticism directed at police over their handling of the case.
A senior police officer, who did not want to reveal his identity, told AFP news agency: “The plot is completely fabricated and unpleasant. It is based on total falsehood.”
Dhaka Metropolitan Police said the two had been arrested “for making and acting in a film containing such offensive and obscene dialogue”.
The police statement continued: “The officer was interrogating her using very offensive gestures and obscene language, which is the opposite of healthy entertainment and will create negative perceptions about policing among the public.”
Police said the pair was charged with “making a film with pornographic content” over a separate scene that shows the sexual assault. They potentially face up to seven years in prison.
The police also announced that they were also keen to arrest Orchita Sporshia, the 27-year-old actor who played the rape victim.
Sexual crimes have soared in Bangladesh in recent years, with human rights group Ain-o-Salish Kendra saying nearly 889 incidents were reported between January and September – with more than a fifth of these being gang rapes. At least 41 victims died, the campaign group claims.
Campaigners say 732 rape cases were reported in 2018, with the figure almost doubling to 1,413 in 2019. There have been almost 1,000 cases reported so far this year.
But campaigners warn these figures do not reflect the true scale of the problem due to many women being too scared to report rape over fears the authorities will not hold their perpetrator to account.
The government of Bangladesh approved an increase in the maximum punishment in rape cases from life imprisonment to the death penalty back in October, in response to national protests against rising sexual violence.
Demonstrations erupted in northeast Bangladesh at the end of September after seven men gang-raped a woman while her husband was beaten. (Source: Independent UK)